More on Bipolar Depression and Anxiety

It has been about three weeks since my husband and I dropped my daughter at college in New England. There was one day out of about 5 that I was extremely anxious on the border of being non-functional. I have bipolar illness and do not travel well and do not do so well outside my daily routine.

Since my husband and I have returned from this trip I have felt depression kicking in and replacing some of my chronic anxiety. I have talked to my therapist about it and am currently exploring whatever linkages there may be causal or correlative between my depression and my anxiety.

Depression has a certain feel. Anxiety has a certain feel as well. I can tell the depression is coming on due to a generalized feeling of dread and a physical expression of being low energy or down in my mood. It is like a wet blanket all over everything. This feeling of depression is very different from my generalized anxiety. With the anxiety there is always something specific that I am worried about. The source of the anxiety has a specific source in mind: Did my daughter find out how to print her assignments? Is my daughter eating well and eating enough? Is she isolating or making friends? Are her finances for groceries in order?

However with the depression there is not such a direct connection to current events that are on-going in my daughter’s collegiate life. Instead, the depression appears to be me re-living my experiences and hardships in college and projecting them onto my daughter. The depression is not so much about what is going on presently and how can I fix it by being a helicopter Mom (stated objective is to move from this helicopter to supportive Mom) as it is a replay or reminder of events from my past that were not fun at all at the time I was in college.

My depression is all about me resurrecting or reliving past experiences that occurred to me and with me in college. During college was when my bipolar started so that may help to explain things.

The depression is a general malaise. The anxiety is tied to specific details of my life or my daughter’s life.

What does this indicate about the relationship between my anxiety and my depression? I have largely been somewhat anxious since I began treatment with clozapine in 2008. I have not really experienced a depressive state since that I can recall at this time. My current struggles from depression have really just started since we got home from dropping my daughter at college.

If the anxiety is generally topic specific, the depression and malaise are generally not so much so. The anxiety is hard to contain and hard not to push onto other people in my life including my husband and my daughter – as if this impacts my boundaries with each of them. The depression for the most part is not so invasive to boundaries as it is something I sit with while those around me continue with their lives.

I keep asking myself which is better and which is worse? If I am imposing my anxiety on others, that feels like a worse way of managing my health than experiencing my depression and allowing those feelings to occur so that feelings and emotions are not so much being projected on those around me. My depression like it or not is mine while the anxiety I experience is a state I extend to others in my life while not meaning to.

So what is the connection if anything between my anxiety and my depression? Is it possible that underlying all those anxious thoughts about school schedules, meal routines, printer access, train trips at Thanksgiving is a generalized experience of depression that is difficult to distance myself from because the depression echoes experiences of depression or uneasiness when I was in college. If I confront my demons about my own college experience more fully, will I be able to stop experiencing and therefore projecting that experience on my daughter in terms of anxiety checklists?

Can I learn to allow my own college experiences to flow through or wash through my emotional registrars and stand up and say: This was not a good time in my life (for reasons explored in other posts) and I do not wish this on anyone including my college aged daughter. If I can release these depressive experiences as I relive them on my daughter’s college timeline, can I be less likely to project my specific anxieties on my daughter? Is the depression the root cause of the anxieties? Or do they just co-occur? If I finally came to terms with what happened to me during my college years, would I be less likely to project worries upon my daughter or to extend checking behaviors to her.

Bottom line is that I did not feel safe when I was in college (for a variety of reasons outlined in other posts). Now some 40 years later can I just own the fact that I felt unsafe and that I currently do feel safe more or less. If I can recognize that safety is an issue of the past and not so much of the present, will there be less room for that litany of anxious thoughts about this and that specific thing to occur?

Does Your Blood Pressure Vary Due to Anxiety?

I am in the process of adjusting my blood pressure medicine. This has been on-going since about February of this year. I have been tracking my readings for about 7 to 8 months.

The trouble is my blood pressure varies widely over the course of the day I think due to the stress and anxiety and erratic nature of my bipolar illness. Also if I go to an appointment that is stressful like the dentist or for a mammogram, my stress level soars and my blood pressure climbs.

My dental hygienist indicated yesterday there is something called “white coat syndrome” where your blood pressure rises upon seeing someone in the medical establishment (doctor or dentist or someone in that profession) wearing a “white coat.” When I first arrived for my dental cleaning yesterday, my blood pressure levels were very high. I asked again at the end of the appointment whether my levels could be checked again — and they were normal.

Does anyone else have volatile blood pressure readings? That might be tied to anxiety levels? Or suffer from high blood pressure readings when stress is high?

This is a work in progress regarding depression and anxiety

In this post, I am exploring the relationship between anxiety and depression. I originally thought that most people either experience anxiety OR depression, but I have been corrected that this is not always the case. A large percentage of people with depression also experience anxiety.

My therapist has told me in her opinion anxiety and depression are often two sides of the same coin. I am using this post to explore that concept. This post is a work in progress.

Since becoming an empty nester in the last several weeks, I find my old friend depression to be creeping in. I have been wondering how this depression relates to chronic anxiety. As an FYI, I manage bipolar illness and have for more than half of my life.

Yesterday, my husband and I catalogued and bundled five or six huge garbage bags of my daughter’s old clothes. Going through them and bundling them for GoodWill felt both depressing and productive at the same time. The process reminded me of going through belongings after my father died. It was a time of great loss and also a time to look forward to a better day as he had been ill for quite some time.

I suppose getting my daughter’s items together for GoodWill meant that a part of my relationship with her was going away forever. That is the Mom role taking care of all the details for my daughter. There is loss associated with letting go of the hovering Mom even though I am 100% sure it is the healthy thing for me to do as well as what is healthy for her. She is soon to be 19 and very able to manage things in her life that I used to (and still do at times) worry about.

The idea that all these sweaters, and pants and shirts and skirts will have a second life at GoodWill once purchased by a new owner is a reminder to me that my daughter also is embarking on a new chapter in her life. As her belongings move to new owners, so too is her life migrating to a new phase where she and I will continue to relate but relate differently. I will not manage her life so much as support her emotionally and financially. I am learning to do this but am not a pro at it yet (at all). Perhaps as I experience the loss, there will be more room for experiencing the joy of her moving forward in her life with this critical milestone.

The depression I feel is that I am losing the child I have worked so hard to raise. There is sadness in letting go. There is anxiety in letting go. I need to let myself experience the sadness and the sorrow and the anxiety of her moving from one phase in her life – childhood – to another phase in her life – young adulthood.

Clearly there are related joys and moments of extreme happiness that also accompany this transition. My daughter is embarking on a journey of higher education, deliberate self-management and self-initiated problem solving as she maneuvers these first several weeks and months in college. My husband and I are in effect setting her free.

However, I am not quite feeling celebratory yet. I am still in the remembering and experiencing the loss phase of things.

I think perhaps loss can be attributed to a child leaving home for the first time. There is a kind of loss that is similar to loss when someone dies though not so dire and not so extreme. I believe that if I can learn to grieve that loss, I will be more able to embrace the positive developments and positives sides of this lifetime transition. There is also this issue of abandonment. I suffer abandonment issues as a child of divorce. I have bent over backwards so my daughter will not experience abandonment issues – if anything I have overdone it with my hovering Mom role.

So how does all this relate to my chronic anxiety? Is it possible that the anxiety is a symptom or manifestation of the depression I feel in letting go of my daughter’s life details? If I am able to let myself experience the sadness associated with this change, will that allow me to free up or tackle some of my anxious thoughts and give room to feelings of joy, pride, love and support for my daughter and her pending journey of self discovery?

Finally, does anyone else experience depression and anxiety as being related? Do you believe that if you allow yourself to mourn the loss of a prior mode of relationship that that will free you up to embrace the new phase or mode of that relationship? Or might this give less room to feelings of anxiety?

Sorry to ramble on. I am clearly still exploring and processing these thoughts and feelings.

When Depression Creeps in Where Does Anxiety Go?

Soon after becoming an empty nester I have begun to experience some feelings of depression. This is understood as I have bipolar illness. But the depression phases of my bipolar history are fewer and less extreme than the mania phases. Since 2008 while prescribed clozapine, I have been experiencing mixed states that manifest themselves in acute anxiety.

In addition to just becoming an empty nester, there have been two recent deaths (in the past two weeks or so) in my social/family circles (both expected) and my Psyche doctor is experiencing severe back issues and lack of feeling in his feet.

So my question today is where does that long-standing anxiety go when feelings of depression are accepted as part of life’s challenges and puzzles? Is the depression the root cause of the anxiety? Have I been experiencing loads of anxiety because I have not been able to process sadness, pain, separation and depression?

I don’t have the answers to these questions right now. But it seems to me if I am going to come out of this series of mixed states, it is important to acknowledge the depression and allow it to pass. Perhaps then the anxiety will be less so. Any thoughts?

I just want to say…..

I just want to say for the record that I am feeling very worried about where the Supreme Court is going and its role in creating further divisions among people in red states and people in blue states in the US. I have a general feel of unease migrating toward anxiety or extreme anxiety when I think about where we are as a nation in the US including the prevalence of gun violence in everyday life. I try to put a happy face on it saying at least we have a “functioning” Court system where other nations do not. And that is important. But my anxiety still runs high when I think about how we are going to heal the divide that is currently among us. I don’t see a way out. And that scares me. Am I the only one worrying about this? Or is it just better placed out of sight and out of mind?

OOOHHHH Final Exams!

My daughter is finishing up high school this month. You may have heard of the program — the International Baccalaureate or IB Diploma Program.

The program is insane – at least in my mind right now. It is testing kids on two sometimes three years of content. Most of these kids were out all of Sophomore and a good part of Junior Year due to COVID and still exams are marching on.

I find myself in a particularly strange spot. I should be providing undying support to my 18-year-old rather than getting her enmeshed in my anxiety. This is really hard for me as college years were the years I first experienced early signs of bipolar. So I worry about the same for her.

All in all, we have less than two weeks to go. So that is great! But it sure would be nice if the IB Diploma Program made some real concessions for studying and mastering content during a world-wide pandemic. I have reached out to the college counselor and he agrees it is an issue globally. So maybe they will give the kids a break?

When is anxiety at its worst?

This is just a quick discussion of any patterns that may exist in my experience of anxiety.

For some strange reason, my anxiety is at its worst when I first wake up and before I have had several cups of coffee – half caffeine and half decaf. It is not a great way to greet the day with full-on anxiety yet that is more often my pattern.

Since developing a walking routine with our new puppy, this morning anxiety has become more of a todo list upon waking which is a welcome change.

It also helps to read the 23rd Psalm outloud upon waking but I do not always do this and haven’t in a while. Perhaps I need to restart this practice.

Usually after my morning coffee my anxiety is still there but tolerable with PRNs.

If you experience anxiety is it ever at the beginning of your day? What are the patterns you see in your anxiety if any?

After several days of CBD oil

Again, this is not a post proposing use of CBD for anxiety or any other mental health condition. It is just my personal experience with using a small amount of CBD oil daily for the last several days. Please don’t consider this a product endorsement or a cure for any sort for mental illness. Please don’t make a change in your medical regimen without consulting a doctor first. Also please be sure if you do take CBD oil you are aware of dosing information. Consult packaging or a health professional for dosing.

I have to say there is some progress with my anxiety after taking CBD oil for a little less than a week. The anxiety does not disappear but it is more easily placed from the front burner to the back burner. This is significant for me as anxiety generally presents itself at the foremost of my thoughts and does not typically minimize itself through self-talk. The anxiety usually may become more manageable with a daily walk or yoga but it generally is difficult to move to the back burner even still. With a walk, the anxiety generally becomes somewhat more responsive to self-talk.

Being able to push the anxiety pot (no pun intended) to the back burner is relatively new to me. This means I am more able to entertain thoughts that are on the front burner. Typically those front-burner thoughts are more observations associated with positive thinking. In front-burnered thoughts, I am more likely to see my blessings and count my blessings. I am more able to see all the things I am grateful for but that I may overlook from time to time. Front-burnered thoughts are more intentional thoughts or thoughts over which I may have some control. Back-burnered thoughts are more automatic and I am less likely to have control over these – such as the anxiety.

Just a thought, it might be nice to talk to some folks who do not suffer from anxiety and ask them about whether front-burnered and back-burnered thoughts work this way for them. I have often thought that having a mental illness such as bipolar means my conscious thoughts are closer to my subconscious thoughts – that’s what makes these thoughts so difficult to manage. For most people it seems that intense fears or intense anxieties exist more at the subconscious level than on the conscious one and are therefore more easy to “silence” or to “manage” if they are not present at the forefront of consciousness.

To repeat in my experience with the CBD oil, the anxiety does not go away but it can be put in greater perspective once the worries move from a front burner spot to a back burner spot.

I will update this blog in another week or so to see if the back-burnering of anxiety-ridden thoughts is able to hold. Thanks for listening. Please share any stories of managing anxiety on CBD oil you may have.

I have started up with CBD oil again

This is not a product endorsement for CBD oil – only a recount of my experience. Please take this into consideration. Thank you.

I have started up with a low dosage of CBD oil again. I am still underwhelmed at the level of dosage information there is on packaging and in general available to consumers but I am trying to take the edge off my anxiety which is presenting with the end of my daughter’s high school career and the beginning of her college years. I have talked this through with my therapist at our last session and with my psychiatrist a year or two ago.

Does anyone have personal stories of CBD oil helping with anxiety? Other stories regarding CBD?

Happy Easter Everyone!

Hello all. I hope you are having a great Easter Sunday or whatever holiday you observe (or don’t observe)! Today I am focusing on being grateful. Even though I have persistent anxiety from my bipolar illness I have lots and lots to be thankful for: my daughter’s health, my daughter’s achievements in school, my husband’s companionship, my Mom’s relatively good health, our new puppy, a psyche doctor and therapist who I trust and consider in my support circle , constant help and support from my sister, and the list goes on….

Can you find it in your heart to be thankful for something today? Even if it as simple as that cup of morning coffee? I hope so.

Have a super day!